Mentoring is a vital tool that helps project and program managers advance their careers; whilst we also gain much from the process. But before signing up, understanding how the relationship works will help you decide if the journey is one you wish to undertake, and help you achieve your objectives.
We believe the following factors are crucial to achieving a positive mentoring outcome:
- Both the mentor and mentee should do thoroughly prepare for the process, take time to understand the other person and pay proactive attention to building early chemistry and engagement with each other in the first two to three meetings.
- The mentee needs to take ultimate responsibility for setting robust objectives and goals that will materially assist his or her career. You may not know the details of how to get you’re your desired outcome but you must have an objective that is specific and measurable so you know when it has been achieved.
- The mentor takes the ultimate responsibility for establishing an environment of strong trust, candour and confidentiality, but also one characterised by his or her active listening to the real needs of the mentee. The mentoring assignment needs to be characterised by common values.
- Both parties need to set a program of meetings every month, or at least once every six to eight weeks, and be willing to re-set meeting dates to avoid cancellations.
- The mentoring process should involve loops of preparation and negotiation to facilitate the confident application and trial by the mentee of strategies and desired practices formulated in the mentoring sessions, followed by reviews and reflective learning.
- These loops should be evaluated and enhanced or re-tried as appropriate at subsequent sessions. Any perceived failure to trial, or avoidance, needs to be pursued vigorously by the mentor – the objective is to set stretch assignments to the mentee and help him/her succeed. A mentoring relationship without a bit of ‘tough love’ in the advanced stages is unusual, and unlikely to produce material benefit in the mentee.
- The hallmark of a positive and productive mentoring assignment is a well established level of dialogue characterised by patient probing and powerful questioning by the mentor and non-defensive consideration, responses and reflection by the mentee.
- The ultimate test of a mentoring relationship is whether it reaches the goal set by the mentee and he or she not only achieves the outcome, but is also confident in their ability to handle it into the future.
- When all of the key elements of the ‘goal’ have been reached, the mentoring has done its job and both parties should move forward independently.
As with every relationship it takes two people to make it work and you also need the time and energy to commit to its success. We undertake a limited number of mentoring assignments each year, where we feel the chemistry is right and we can make a real difference, a brief outline is on our website at: Executive PM Coaching & Mentoring – then if you feel this is an option you would like to follow up, the next step is seeing if the ‘chemistry’ works and setting some mutually agreed objectives.
Alternatively, to see how mentoring fits into your team development efforts see: Developing your team.